In This Update: 1) If you’re still waiting for a call from NJDOL; 2) If you’ve applied successfully but haven’t gotten paid; 3) The easiest way to sign up for direct deposit; 4) Mailings from NJDOL and what to do about them; 5) How much should you be receiving?; and 5) The union’s Work-Sharing Loan program.
We’re finally making significant progress toward solving the problems that too many of you experienced with the work-sharing program. The vast majority of work-sharing participants are getting payments at this point, and we have new information from the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) that we think will help those of you who are still waiting. If you’re still waiting to be contacted by NJDOL or to receive your first payment, please read this update carefully for the actions we need you to take.
This has been a frustrating process for everyone involved, but especially for those of you still experiencing problems, even with the end of the program just a week away. For that, we apologize. We were able to achieve a number of our people-centered priorities by offering work-sharing, but the burdens of a malfunctioning unemployment system have fallen on too many of you. We are thankful for your patience while we fix the problems—and we won’t stop working on them until they are all solved (even after the program has ended).
1. If You’re Still Waiting for a Call from an NJDOL Agent
We think that almost everyone on our two lists of 150 faculty who were waiting for a call from NJDOL—whether because they don’t have a New Jersey state ID or they experienced problems applying online—finally spoke to an agent earlier this month. An NJDOL representative told us that everyone on the lists we submitted was called at least twice.
We’ve been asked to find out who didn’t get a call, so we’re asking anyone who still needs to speak to an agent to fill out a new Google form by the end of the day on Friday. Be sure to give us the number for a phone that you can pick up if NJDOL calls next week—and double-check the accuracy of the phone number after you fill it out.
We know the 10-week furlough is almost over, but NJDOL is responsible for making unemployment payments to our work-sharing participants, so we intend to keep pressing them until that happens. So please, if you still need to get a call from NJDOL, fill out this new Google form by tomorrow afternoon. If you are still trying to call the NJDOL phone lines, we suggest filling in the Google form will be a quicker way to reach an agent—they will call you.
2. If You’ve Applied Successfully but Haven’t Gotten Paid
NJDOL began working on the list we compiled of work-sharing participants facing this problem two weeks ago. We think that payments have started for at least half of the 350 people on that list—though not without some people going through an onerous identity verification process. If you’re still waiting, though, you aren’t alone. An NJDOL representative acknowledged that the department is still going through our list and untangling whatever problems stopped you from getting payments.
We learned one important piece of information this week: you should set up direct deposit if you possibly can to avoid additional delays (and we have outlined a MUCH simpler process for selecting direct deposit in section 3 below). NJDOL has told us that the default method for payment—a debit card mailed to your home address—involves additional steps to assure security, which causes further delays. We know the debit cards do get mailed eventually, so if you really don’t want direct deposit, you’ll still get payments. But direct deposit is the way to go if you want to expedite payment.
We’ll add a couple older pieces of advice that still apply:
- Check your spam/junk folders for an email sent any time in the last week and a half with the subject line “Verify Your Identity to Access Your NJ Unemployment Insurance Claim.” If you find it, you should complete the ID.me process. The system may take a couple tries and a few hours of frustrating effort, but it should eventually work.
- Watch your mail for an envelope from NJDOL containing a debit card with your payments loaded onto it. We’ve heard from faculty who are certain they signed up for direct deposit but received a debit card instead. And if you do get a card, you can switch the remainder of your payments to direct deposit by following the process in section 3 below.
Some of you have voiced anxiety that you won’t get payments once furloughs end at the end of the month. NJDOL is responsible for getting payments to everyone qualified for unemployment, so we will keep pressing the department to clear up all the problems for our faculty. The effective start date of the program is still April 18, 2021.
3. The Easiest Way to Select Direct Deposit (No, Really)
We really wish we knew about this before last week, but there is a MUCH simpler way to sign up for direct deposit than the complicated phone/online instructions we’ve been recommending. Here’s what to do:
- Go to https://www.myunemployment.nj.gov/, click on the “Need Help?” menu item, and choose “Forms.”
- Scroll down the page and click on the “What you can download and print out” header. Select BC-502 (item 6), “Authorization for Benefit Payment by Direct Deposit or Debit Card.”
- Fill out the pdf form and take a picture of a voided check from the account you want to deposit into.
- Attach both files and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s it. If you were so frustrated by the phone/online instructions that you gave up on direct deposit, give this a try. This is especially helpful if you’re waiting for payments to start; we’ve been advised that setting up direct deposit will get you paid faster. But anyone can switch the remainder of their payments to direct deposit.
4. Mailings from NJDOL and What to Do About Them
When your unemployment claim is approved, you get a standard mailing from NJDOL to your home address (one of the forms included will be titled “Notice to Claimant of Benefit Determination”). This is good news—it is further confirmation that you are approved. However, the enclosed forms have information that is confusing and inaccurate for our work-sharing program. Don’t worry about these forms; no action is required. Above all, do NOT certify. If you receive any communication, in writing or from an agent, telling you to certify weekly in order to keep getting unemployment payments or to set up appointments to certify, ignore it. This does not apply to our work-sharing program.
A smaller number of you are getting other forms that may or may not be relevant (for example, some of you recently got a questionnaire titled “Fact Finding Record for School Personnel”; we think this form was sent in error and are seeking clarification from NJDOL). Please email us at email@example.com if you have questions about other forms you received.
5. How Much Should You Be Receiving?
Many who finally started getting payments have asked us whether you’re getting the right amount. The state pays recipients 60 percent of their salaries up to a cap of $731 per week (anyone making about $62,000 a year and up is at the cap). We are getting payments for a 10 percent furlough, so we only get 10 percent of that amount. All of us in work-sharing will receive close to the maximum each week (between $60 and $73). You may have elected to have 10 percent of your payments withheld for taxes; if so, then your benefit amount will be no greater than $66.
Additionally, everyone will get a separate $300-a-week payment from federal unemployment funds. You automatically get the federal unemployment supplement if you are approved by NJDOL. However, these federal payments lag behind the state payments by several weeks. The further delay is frustrating for those of you who have already been waiting, but from what we’ve been told, the payments do eventually come.
6. The Union’s Work-Sharing Loan Program
Anyone who hasn’t gotten unemployment payments may be facing financial problems caused by the 10 percent reduction in their paychecks. Please consider the union’s Work-Sharing Loan Program. The loan program requires you to fill out a simple Google form to start the process. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like access to the form.
The Loan Committee will review the application for approval, and if necessary, we will reach out to you for more information. The loan amount would be a paycheck completion sum to recover the 10 percent of your paycheck missing due to furloughs. Once approved, we’ll send over our loan agreement and rules, and we can work together on getting your funds to you as quickly as possible (within about a day of being approved).
We know no one wants to go through even more applications, but the union is in a position to help if you need it, and we guarantee that the process will be FAR simpler than the NJDOL system.
Please raise any questions that weren’t answered in this update by emailing email@example.com.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Union merch is available at our web store.
Find the latest messages to members and union statements here.